UW-M, Bharat Biotech, FluGen collaborate to develop COVID-19 vaccine

FluGen president and CEO Paul Radspinner stated that there is immense pressure to not only get the vaccine right but also to expedite its manufacturing process.

A health worker displays bottles of vaccine Pneumovax on the outskirts of Siliguri (photo credit: REUTERS)
A health worker displays bottles of vaccine Pneumovax on the outskirts of Siliguri
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A modestly small laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, FluGen is partnering with the University of Wisconsin and global vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech to develop a coronavirus vaccine, according to ABC-affiliate WISN2.
Within the local news report, FluGen president and CEO Paul Radspinner stated that there is immense pressure to not only get the vaccine right but also to expedite its manufacturing process – which work against each other.
"You see all the hoopla, and that's great – things are moving fast with the big companies," said Radspinner. "But we're being a little more careful at the front end, I think, to make sure we're testing vaccines in the early stages, making sure they're stable, viable and safe before we start putting them into humans."
In 2008, the University of Wisconsin research team was responsible for unlocking what made the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic so deadly – a group of three genes that lets the virus invade the lungs and cause pneumonia.
They mixed samples of the 1918 influenza strain with modern seasonal flu viruses to find the three genes and said their study might help in the development of new flu drugs.
The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could also point to mutations that would turn ordinary flu into a dangerous pandemic strain – such as the case with the novel coronavirus.
They painstakingly substituted single genes from the 1918 virus into modern flu viruses and, one after another, they acted like garden-variety flu, infecting only the upper respiratory tract.
But a complex of three genes helped to make the virus live and reproduce deep in the lungs, as does the novel coronavirus.
I hope we get beat – the most important thing is we get a vaccine – but I think as you've heard, it's going to take a number of vaccines,"  Radspinner concluded. "Nobody is going to make 7 billion doses of anything."

Reuters contributed to this report.